15 February 2012

Could Northwestern finally make the NCAA Tournament?

John Shurna, Drew Crawford and the Northwestern Wildcats are looking this season to finally end their schools' March Madness drought this season. They sit at 15-9 overall with a 5-7 record in the Big Ten and while bracketologists such as Andy Glockner are not so confident right now, hope is still alive. So will they get there?

The Wildcats' RPI is not bad as it sits right now at 44 and they have played a strong schedule as their strength of schedule sits at 14th in the nation. And they have a good win in defeating Michigan State at home a month ago on January 14th.

The problems with their case is that they already have nine loses so they will not have much margin for error the rest of the season. Plus besides the Michigan State victory, they do not have many other really good victories, although they do have wins over other teams on the bubble such as Seton Hall and Illinois, who they also lost to at home. Plus getting swept on the season by Purdue, another team on the bubble, really does not help matters.

So the Wildcats need some strong wins in their final six games before the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis kicks off. That starts tonight as they take on the Indiana Hoosiers in Bloomington and a win there will be big for their case. They then take on a fellow bubble team in Minnesota on Saturday and then have two more opportunities for statement victories with home games against Michigan and Ohio State. If they can win some of those games, they will be in good shape. A strong performance in the tournament, similar to what Penn State did last year, would be really helpful as well.

If I had to predict right now, I would say they would be on the outside looking in once again. But they still have time to make a big move and could very well do so.

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